How to Seamlessly and Safely Offload and Install Precast Concrete Products

There are several benefits to using precast concrete components in a controlled environment before transferring them to the site for final installation. However, this building approach has an extra challenge: loading and unloading of precast pieces.

The uncontrolled collapse of prefabricated parts is among the most significant dangers when working with precast concrete elements. A major injury or, perhaps, death might result from such an incident.

Most hazards are caused by a fault in the design, bad weather, premature handling, manufacturing errors, damaged elements, faulty lifting anchors or connectors, incorrect lifting practices, unstable crane work areas, and insufficient structural capacity of foundations.

To avoid such accidents, below are guidelines for safely loading, offloading, and installing precast concrete products.

Preparation and Planning for Crane Lift

When it comes to precast concrete, you’re dealing with a robust and heavy product that demands careful planning and coordination before it arrives on the construction site. It is critical to understand the safety hazards, have the necessary equipment on hand, and convey this knowledge to all involved.

An initial job site visit by both the crane and equipment operators lifting the merchandise is a critical part of the planning phase. This gives them a chance to examine the position of the precast structure, identify where the crane will be installed, establish the line of access for the heavy haul delivery vehicle, and inspect the area for any overhead obstacles.

Larger buildings that need more sophisticated rigging arrangements should be assessed by a certified crane operator and, maybe, a professional engineer. Make sure to make a lift plan ahead of time to show the distance the crane will have to travel, the crane’s capacity relative to the boom’s angle and height position, the weight of the structure and rigging gear, and the capacity of the rigging gears’ components, which includes spreader bars. These lift plans will assist worksite staff in understanding the excavation’s constraints, identifying potential overhead obstacles, and the necessary rigging equipment. They will also help them determine the suitable crane capacity.

Plan of Execution, Shoring, and Subgrade

Some of the most typical procedures mostly ignored before shipment include the timing of the actual excavation and how it is shored, and the subgrade preparation. 

The method of shoring can have a significant influence on the kind of crane and the capacity required to reach the final installation location. Furthermore, it makes no difference how beautifully the building is constructed if the subgrade foundation is not properly prepared. The most efficient job sites will indicate the structure’s final position on the subgrade to provide unambiguous instructions to crane operators and riggers.

Final Precheck

All parties involved, including site personnel, crane operators, riggers, and heavy haul truck drivers, hold one final pre-lift meeting to go over all the details again. Ensure no overhead obstructions are present and note down any potential hazards around the job site. When precast pieces are moved, personnel should keep a distance of roughly 10 to 15 feet from the structure and avoid walking below a suspended cargo and avoid putting themselves between the lifted product and a hazardous zone.


Once all preparations and planning processes are complete, the job site should be ready for the arrival of the structure. Once the structure arrives and the field agent validates the delivery ticket, procedures can be taken to begin unloading the structure.

Cranes, forklifts, and excavators are common equipment for raising precast components. Chains or slings are attached to lifting equipment using one or more shackles, hooks, or specialty lifting clutches. Because there are numerous types of lifting embeds in precast buildings, it is necessary to obtain precise information about the lifting device beforehand.

The construction should be hoisted gently and consistently along the designated course, and it should never be held over a person. Crane spotters or riggers on the bottom should maintain a clear communication line with the crane operator and may even use ropes as tag lines to help stabilize the structure as it is hoisted into place.

After the structure is offloaded, any joint sealants or other components necessary for the installation can be placed. Offloading and handling precast constructions is a seamless procedure replete with lifting plans, safety talks, the correct equipment, and clear communication.

You don’t want to take risks when working with precast concrete, especially where lifting is involved. Always ensure that the best lifting practices are observed to guarantee the safety of all present personnel.

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